Ornamental Separator

Special Event: Mr. Jefferson and The Giant Moose


Art Museums Admission Required

Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose is a tale of both natural history and American history. The story revolves around three fascinating individuals. One of these characters, Thomas Jefferson, is known to every schoolchild. The other two characters (the French nobleman and world-renowned naturalist George-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, who claimed that all life in America was "degenerate," weak and feeble; and a very large, dead moose) are less well known, but equally important to the story. Their interactions lay at the heart of an amazing tale in which Jefferson obsessed over a very large, very dead moose that he believed could help quash early French arrogance toward a fledgling republic in America, and demonstrate that a young America was every bit the equal of a well-established Europe. Despite Jefferson's passionate refutation, the theory of degeneracy far outlived both Buffon and Jefferson. Indeed, it seemed to have had a life of its own. It continued to have scientific, economic, and political implications for a hundred years, and also began to works its way into the literature of the day, with folks like Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Washington Irving, Immanuel Kant, John Keats and Lord Byron entering the fray.  Eventually the degeneracy argument died. But it did not die an easy death.

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Special Event: Mr. Jefferson and The Giant Moose

Hennage Auditorium

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